729. 
Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message. ~Malcolm Muggeridge

Is there a green too green
Is there a wet too wet
In a land that has
suffered long, a drought.

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Is there a heaven too high
Is there a ground too low
In a world that has
suffered much, for a Savior

Is there a Father too loving
Is there a God too merciful
In a heart that has
suffered long, afflictions

Shake not your fists at the heavens
Shake not your fists at the world
Seek instead the One
who came to make a way for all
through the wilderness
through the darkness
through the confusion
through the suffering
~Natalie Scarberry

The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed in gladness. ~Psalms 65:12   ✝

720. O, the month of May, the merry month of may… ~Thomas Dekker

Ho! the merrie first of Maie
Brings the daunce and blossoms gaie
To make of lyfe a holiday!
~Old English saying

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Thousands of years ago winter was a time to honor death and the summer a time to honor life. In those ancient times the short days, grey skies, and cold temperatures began to wear people down and that coupled with a gradual decline in food supplies took its toll on their spirits. Indeed winter was a very difficult time for the ancients, and so the coming of summer brought them great hope. As the crops and grasslands became full of life again, the animals bred, and the warmth of the sun thawed out the earth and their spirits, they celebrated the cross-over and coming change in the human cycle that reflected the turning of the seasons. It was a time for celebrating the forces of life overcoming death, light overcoming darkness, and summer overcoming winter.

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Thus began the dancing around the May pole. A kind of maypole dance, with origins in the 18th century, began as a traditional artistic dance popular in Italy and France. Eventually, traveling troupes performed it in London theaters, thus bringing this traditional dance to larger audiences. An English teacher training school adopted the maypole dance and soon it had spread across most of central and southern England. The dance became part of the repertoire of physical education for girls and remained popular in elementary schools in both England and the US well into the 1950’s.

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I remember in elementary school making May baskets and flowers out of coloredl pieces of construction paper and crepe paper. Today May Day has many different meanings, if any, but it eventually found its place in Christianity. And though considered quaint now, in decades past, like dancing around the maypole, as the month of April rolled to an end, people begin gathering flowers and candies and goodies to put in May baskets to hang on the doors of friends, neighbors, and loved ones on May 1st. And there were even rules about the basket tradition:

1.  Giving was supposed to be anonymous. Reciprocity was not expected. One was to leave the basket on the doorknob or doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run.
2.  Children were to give to grownups, instead of the other way around. On almost every other holiday, only the child receives gifts; so they don’t get to experience the true joy of unselfish giving.

He(Jesus) told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near…” ~Luke 21:29-30   ✝

**Images via Pinterest and the Internet; collages created by Natalie

182. Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

In the garden, Autumn is,
indeed the crowning glory of the year,
bringing us the fruition of months
of thought and care and toil.
And at no season, safe perhaps in Daffodil time,
do we get such superb color effects
as from August to November.
~Rose G. Kingsley

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Autumn, a time when magnificent days are often set ablaze under crystalline, sapphire skies or leaves are made to glisten on gloomy, rainy days.  Then there are the chilly eves with their rising moons on star-speckled, indigo nights that add more drama to the sensational spectacle.  What’s more lingering in sylvan settings observing flights of migrating birds or monarch butterflies, or watching busying squirrels gather acorns, or gazing at confetti-colored leaves fluttering gracefully to the ground under broad expanses bathed in the bluest of blues are rich, restorative times of hushed mellowness.  And what about the frosts that adorn grasslands and hills or  the fallen leaves that are the color of reddish, ripened persimmons?  All of it, simply all that autumn has to offer, is in fact “the crowning glory of the year.”

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.  ~Psalm 57:5  ✝

11. The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome,
indescribably magnificent world in itself. ~Henry Miller

Each blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws its life,
its strength; and so man is rooted to the land
from which he draws his faith together with his life.
~Joseph Conrad

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Against the backdrop of autumn’s falling leaves ornamental grasses shift and sigh adding an ethereal element to the landscape.  With airy flower panicles, fluffy seed plumes, and striking seed heads ornamental grasses provide charming “fringe accents” in yards and gardens. Even after the onslaughts of freezing temperatures, grasses continue to grace the landscape with beauty.  They add subtle colors, assorted textures, and the dimensions of motion and sound.  Throughout winter’s “vale of grief,” they capture and play with whatever light is available and in so doing speak of life and give us something “that glimmers in the sleep of things.” The “music” of their swishing and swaying reminds us that what’s happening isn’t an ending but merely a transition for the next beginning.

In a poetic conversation with the Lord, Edna St. Vincent Millay said, “God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on Thy heart.”  A Quaker and itinerant preacher named Elias Hicks wrote that “the fullness of the godhead dwelt in every blade of grass.”  And Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish writer, asked, “To us also, through every star, through every blade of grass, is not God made visible if we will open our minds and our eyes.”  These writers, like me, realize that man was meant to be “rooted to the land and therefore to God.”  But, the “umbilical cord” that connects all humanity to Creation and God seems, for many, to have been severed.

The Lord, however, refuses to remain separated or removed from that which He has made.  In an effort to reconnect people to the land and to provide healthier food, many neighborhoods are finding places to build community gardens.  More and more people are getting involved in caring for the land in these communal plots.  Also many schools across the nation are incorporating habitat gardens into the learning experiences of their students, and we are seeing a rise in “hobby farms” where retired professionals have started a second career as a hobby farmer or others who are still working are spending their spare time on their own small farm.

You care for the land and water it; You enrich it abundantly.  The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so You have ordained it.   You drench its furrows and level its ridges; You soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with Your bounty, and Your carts overflow with abundance.  The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.  The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.  ~Psalm 65:9-13   ✝